Ferns and hostas may make a big impact in shady areas, but don't overlook the beauty of smaller ground covers, especially when they burst into bloom like Meehan's mint. This native, creeping mint (Meehania cordata) bursts into bloom in spring with trumpet-shaped lavender flowers with a white lip and a spotted purple throat. It grows 6 inches tall, and the trailing stems root as they creep along the soil, however it's not as invasive as other creeping ground covers, such as ground ivy.
The most rewarding feature of Meehan's mint is that it will flower even in full shade. It prefers moist soil, and is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8.
To learn more about this native ground cover, go to: Sunlight Gardens.